Health Blog

Cervical Cancer Prevention

by Frankie Wythe on 02 January 2018 10:01

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week runs every January and the 2018 dates are Monday 22 - Sunday 28 January 2018. 

The theme for the Cervical Cancer Prevention Week 2018 is “Reduce your risk”

Cervical cancer can be prevented. With your help we can ensure every woman knows how they can reduce their risk of the disease and the steps they can take to look after their health.

This means:

· Attending cervical screening when invited

· Knowing the symptoms of cervical cancer and seeking medical advice if experiencing any

· Taking up the HPV vaccination if aged 11-18

· Talking to friends and family to ensure they know how they can reduce their risk

· Knowing where to find support and further information

 

Every year in the UK, around 3000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer and it is the most common cancer in women aged under 35.

 

Symptoms

· Abnormal bleeding (during/after sexual intercourse or between periods)

· Post menopausal bleeding

· Unusual vaginal discharge

· Discomfort or pain during sexual intercourse

· Lower back pain

 

What is Cervical Cancer and Causes

· Almost all cases (99.7%) are caused by infections with certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV)

· HPV is a very common infection that four out of five sexually active adults will come into contact with in their lifetime, it is contracted through skin-to-skin contact (including genital, anal, vaginal and oral sex)

· There are over 100 types of HPV, each is given a specific number. Around 13 types are linked to cervical cancer

· Most women will clear the infections themselves, without any harm

· A small number of women  can have dormant or persistent infections which can cause cervical abnormalities

 

Risk factors

· Not attending cervical screening—the estimated lifetime risk to a woman in the UK who does not attend cervical screening (smear testing) is 1.7%. Attending screening can prevent around 70% of cases of cervical cancer

· Increased exposure by: being sexually active from a younger age, having children at a younger age, giving birth to many children, having a higher number of sexual partners and long term use of the contraceptive pill

· Factors which affect the immune response– smoking or conditions such as HIV or lupus

 

How to reduce your risk

· Practice safe sex through regular use of condoms

· Not smoking

· Quitting smoking- if you are a smoker it is very import to try and quit in order to reduce your risk of developing cervical abnormalities and cervical cancer. Evidence shows that women who have successfully stopped smoking for at least ten years can half their risk of developing cervical cancer and precancer compared to women who currently smoke [1]. For support in helping you quit, visit the NHS Smokefree website 

· Leading a healthy lifestyle: this will help to keep your immune system (your body's natural defence against disease and infection) strong. A weakened immune system could mean that your risk of cervical cancer is higher than average

· Attending cervical screening (smear test) when invited*: this can help to find cervical abnormalities and HPV infections before they are able to develop into cervical cancer.

· Vaccination: getting the HPV vaccination if you are eligible (please see our information pages) will protect you from the high-risk HPV types 16 and 18 that cause 70% off all cervical cancers. It will also protect you from the two HPV types that cause 90% of the genital warts cases. 

 

Naming cervical cancer
There are two main types of cervical cancer:

1. Squamous cell – eight out of ten (80%) cervical cancers are diagnosed as squamous cell. Squamous cell cancers are composed of the flat cells that cover the surface of the cervix and often begin where the outer surface joins with the cervical canal.

2. Adenocarcinoma – more than one in ten (15–20%) cervical cancers are diagnosed as adenocarcinoma. This cancer develops in the glandular cells which line the cervical canal. This type of cancer can be more difficult to detect with cervical screening tests because it develops within the cervical canal.

 

Grading cervical cancer

Tumour grading helps the doctor predict how cells may behave. Cells are graded from 1 to 3 depending on how different they look to normal cells under the microscope. Grade 1 tumours tend to be slow growing and don’t look as abnormal as higher grade tumours.

 

Author
Frankie Wythe

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